You’d think, after three consecutive defeats in Premier League play, that the vibes at Tottenham Hotspur would be dead and buried. They aren’t, far from it. Tottenham may have lost 2-1 at home to Aston Villa on Sunday, but there’s a LOT of context behind that result.
Tottenham started the match missing ten players via injury and suspension including several of their best players and both of their starting central defenders and still put together an exciting 90 minutes of football that was at times delightful to watch. Sure they lost the match, but there aren’t many Spurs fans who saw that performance and think that the Ange Postecoglou project is already on its last legs.
Neither does Dejan Kulusevski. One of Spurs’ best performers on the day, Deki gave quotes to the Evening Standard asking Tottenham supporters to have faith, trusting the process will lead to significant improvements down the road.
“I really hope [the fans] stay with us because we will win in the future if we continue like this. It is important that we stay together, everybody in this club, and outside is not important what anybody else says. Inside, everybody needs to have a positive energy and help us players, because we will bring them happiness.
“We played unbelievable. First 30 minutes [were] unbelievable, fantastic from everybody. When you play like that, you want to win, but this is the way. We have to continue. We lost three in a row, that’s the big problem. The way we played, especially the first 30 minutes, we have to play like that for 90 minutes — then we cannot lose games. We have to improve only mentally. That’s the only thing.
“Football-wise we are unbelievable, the coach is doing unbelievable with us. We have to just stay on track, believe in ourselves and keep playing like this. It’s small details. We should be up a couple of goals. If we are more clinical there would be smiles after the game.”
He’s not wrong. Considering Spurs were playing ostensibly their fourth choice left winger (Bryan Gil), a central midfielder only recently back from an ACL injury that caused him to miss nine months (Rodrigo Bentancur), and a back line that featured four fullback, Spurs still took the match straight at a very good Aston Villa side playing at basically full strength. Tottenham had three goals (correctly) called back for offside and put another two shots off the post. On another day, Tottenham win that match 5-2 and are back near the top of the table.
The missing players forced a bit of a tactical shift, with Deki playing much of the match in a more central role. He admitted that he’s used to playing there from earlier in his career and he quite enjoyed the experience, as borne out by his outstanding play.
“I felt so good, I felt like the real Dejan. I felt like myself. The coach decided where to put me. I enjoyed it and I had real fun playing. It was a great day for me. I’ve [played centrally] all my life, so it’s nothing new to me. Of course, in the second half I played right wing, but physically I feel really good, so I’m happy and I know I’m on the right path.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Spurs, starting with a trip to Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City. That’s never an easy match, but Spurs have been something of a bogey team for the defending league champions in recent years and Deki said he thinks even a limping Spurs can do it again.
“We played there a couple of times before with [Conte] and did good, so it’s going to be a good game. City’s a great team, but we’re a very good team also. I love playing against them. I’ve played them twice and scored two goals. I’m looking forward to doing it again.”
So. Bad vibes? No way. Spurs may be hurting physically, but at least in public they’re showing a mental fortitude that belies the recent results. Ange Postecoglou has the entire team looking at the big picture and taking each match as it comes. While the results may not be coming, it’s clear this team sees it as a bump in the road, and not a determining factor in how the season will play out.